Leeds United 2 Reading 4

Towering substitute Matt Smith showed some overdue spark for Leeds but Reading inflicted another damaging defeat on Brian McDermott’s under-achievers.

Leeds looked out for the count and in danger of a particularly heavy defeat, trailing 4-0 early in the second half after another abysmal performance, but Smith’s arrival sparked them into life as he and Rudi Austin struck to restore some pride.

Exactly a year after losing his job at Reading, Leeds manager McDermott responded to his side’s 5-1 home thrashing against Bolton by making five changes and reverting to using wing-backs.

Leeds needed a confidence lift but instead they shot themselves in the foot by gifting the opening goal to Garath McCleary in the 25th minute.

Lithuanian defender Marius Zaliukas, restored to the starting line-up for the first time since Leeds’ 6-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in January, played a back-pass which Jason Pearce and goalkeeper Jack Butland left to each other in a communication mix-up. McCleary was left the simple task of stroking the ball into an unguarded net.

Reading scored three times in rapid succession after the break.

With 47 minutes gone, Drenthe curled a free-kick into the top left corner from just outside the penalty box. A minute later Danny Guthrie’s free-kick from the left was headed in from six yards by substitute Blackman and in the 54th minute Robson-Kanu’s angled shot sped past the bemused Butland.

McDermott sent on striker Smith in place of Zaliukas on the hour and four minutes later he stabbed home at the far post.

A minute later Austin found the top right corner of Reading’s net with a spectacular 30-yard drive but Leeds had left it too late.

Beleaguered Leeds boss McDermott fears uncertainty surrounding the club's ownership is affecting his players, who have now conceded nine goals in the last two home games.

McDermott said: "We would love to get some stability at the club so we can move forward. Uncertainty over the future ownership has been dragging on for such a long time that there is apprehension around the place and the main conversation is about the ownership."

Massimo Cellino's prospective takeover remains shrouded in uncertainty, leaving doubt over McDermott's future as well after the Italian tried to sack him in January.

McDermott said: "Leeds have had a lot of managers in the last ten or 11 years. I want to try and break that cycle.

"I know it is a results business but we have had no stability here for a long time. Obviously it would help if the manager knew who the owner was going to be."